This seems to be the time of year when we are asked what makes America great. This year the question seems to be asked much more frequently, and by many more people. Perhaps the better question might be what made America great!
It seems I have been asking myself the popular question more and more lately and I can honestly say I have not gotten a good answer. I can easily list those things that made America great, but it seems many of those great things about our Country may have gone missing.
Since I was born 2 1/2 years before Pearl Harbor I have lived through a myriad of changes in the way we live. As a small boy, I watched the celebrations after the last war we actually won, World War II. We listened to the news on the radio, watched the news reels at the movie theater on Saturday mornings, and later Walter Cronkite on our black and white television. We knew we were hearing the real news because no one ever said "got to go, I'm coming up on a hard break", which really means we are going to get 3 or 4 minutes of inane sales pitches! This time of year, we left the house early in the morning, came home for lunch if we were hungry, and were home in time for dinner. Then we played outside until the street lights came on.
Our baseball and football fields were any vacant lot big enough to hold the game. Sometimes, we had to make special ground rules because of a short left field, or a yard that could cost us our only ball if it were to end up there. We would find a patch of woods where we would play cowboys and indians with our toy guns. Sometimes we rode our bikes the 7 miles to a great fishing spot. After fishing for a while we would find a good spot, pretending we had made camp, and ate the lunch our moms packed for us. In Winter, those woods were great places to build forts for fierce, snowball fights. In the evenings, boys and girls alike, played kick the can or buffalo. When we were about 12, our parents enrolled us in a "hunter safety program" to learn the proper handling of guns, since at 14 we would be able to get a small game hunting license. Of course our fathers and grandfathers had already taught us most of the things covered in the program.
When school started in the Fall we walked to school in the morning and, until Junior High, home for lunch and after school. You had to be home after school to change out of your "school clothes". We walked to and from school every day until graduation from High School. This, of course, made for some interesting December walks in Watertown, New York!
We probably didn't like school any better than kids of today but our teachers, and parents, insisted we learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, in our heads, before the end of the 4th grade. At recess, or gym, class everyone participated unless they had a note from their doctor. We played the terribly dangerous game of dodge ball! No matter the game, someone always won! When we reached Junior High and High School there were courses for those kids who really weren't interested in the Three R's, like wood shop (where they actually built a house every year), machine shop, and auto mechanics. They were called Industrial Arts and graduates got their High School diplomas and were job ready on graduation. What a concept, someone must have realized everyone wasn't interested in college, but still needed to make a good living with a good job!
These are some of the reasons why I, and suspect many other, have difficulty answering the question as it relates to today. Since I am a Conservative/Liberatarion many self proclaimed pundits will be quick to say it is because I do not like Barack Obama, some will hint it relates to his color. The fact is, I do not know him and decided long ago it was not fair to express dislike for someone you did not know. As to his color, it has no bearing whatsoever on his ability to do the job he seemed to want so badly 7 years ago. It might however have a bearing on how he does his job, since he seems more in tune with those who fancy themselves entitled to the largesse of others, that is unless they are able to enrich the coffers of the Democratic party!
No, Barack Obama is only one of the factors in my inability to answer the "greatness" question, as it relates to today! I look around and see politicians expressing their pride in public service only interested in being elected again with no intention of serving anyone but themselves. I cringe when I read something written by our kids today or when I watch them struggle with a rudimentary math problem without their cell phone/calculator. This time of year we hear every candidate whining about the lack of funds for our schools when their only purpose is to strengthen the unions who keep them in office.
Most of all, I am disappointed in the American people themselves who allow these things, and more. They keep politicians in office who allow illegals, called immigrants by a virtually, useless media, to strea across the border and become eligible for most of the "entitlements available today, and do nothing about it except blame it on the other party. Politicians who send their sons and daughters off to fight a war, with their hands tied by the rope of political correctness, and then call it a draw. Politicians who squander the taxes paid by those hard working Americans, who still have a job, all the while tearing down what this country stands for!
Maybe you think I'm wrong and so be it! I think, however, we still have the right to express our opinions, at least for now. Either way, I can only answer what made America great, I'm not so sure we will ever see that time again!